Skylights replace windows in FujiwaraMuro Architects’ Japanese house


In this nearly windowless house in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, designed by FujiwaraMuro Architects, five cement-clad boxes lit from above are hidden.

The house with a bright void is in a place surrounded on three sides by residential streets and does not offer a fascinating view.

Empty facade on Japanese houseThe location of a house with a light cavity prompted the architects to design the exterior with very few windows

In order to reassure privacy-conscious customers, the Japanese architecture firm FujiwaraMuro Architects decided to direct daylight into the 85 square meter building mainly through a series of skylights.

These are located above vertical volumes in the center of the house and at four corners, all of which are internally lined with cement plaster.

House with a light cavity is illuminated by skylightsLight is drawn into the building via skylights over cement-clad volumes

Privacy concerns are widespread among homeowners in Japan’s densely populated cities and suburbs, and the lack of windows facing the street is not uncommon in new builds – 10 examples are collected here.

The entrance to the house is through a wooden door let into the north facade of the white clad volume, into a circulating space that surrounds the central volume.

Cement boxes house private rooms in the houseThe cement boxes house private rooms, while living spaces are slotted in between

On one side is the main living area and on the other is a small kitchen. The dining room is at the back next to a wooden staircase.

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The cement plaster tapes themselves contain three bedrooms and a closet on the first floor, while the tower in the center contains a stack of multipurpose rooms offset at a height from the rest of the building.

Sunken spaceBelow the central volume is a sunken multipurpose room

Below is a sunken room accessed through a sliding glass pane, followed by another flexible room accessed via a wooden ladder above.

The glazed openings in the middle of each floor allow light to come all the way down from the larger skylight above it.

House in japanAnother flexible room directly above is accessible via a wooden ladder

The second floor wraps around the inner perimeter of the rectangular building, leaving gaps around the central volume to create partial double-height rooms.

Stairs land in a linear bathroom with a sink, shower, and toilet on one end and an enclosed space with a bathtub on the other end. The doors open to a balcony that occupies the rest of this level and is surrounded at its edges by tall external walls.

Cement-covered walls in the house by FujiwaraMuro ArchitectsA delicate staircase leads to the first floor

Two small glazed windows on the upper floor provide additional light in the bathroom, while an additional open opening along the opposite facade provides a vantage point from the balcony of the neighborhood.

FujiwaraMuro Architects was founded in 2002 by Shintaro Fujiwara and Yoshio Muro and is very productive in his home country. Imaginative private homes were completed in several cities and prefectures.

House with light cavity by FujiwaraMuro ArchitectsOn the upper floor, a bathroom and a closed balcony surround the inner perimeter of the building

The studio’s most unique residences include a building with huge vertical slats and an apartment just 2.5 meters wide.

The photography is by Katsuya Taira.